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All About You Link Party – Sometimes Less is More

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Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m good at taking a lot of stuff on in life and as a result, I’m really good at keeping myself busy. I can cram a whole load of varied things into my social life.

I haven’t always made the most of my time. I’m 30 now and I look back over my late teens/early twenties when I was a uni student and think I really could have done more with my time (especially since I now work at a university and when I see and hear about all the activities that students have the opportunity to get involved in, I think ‘wow, if only I could have my student days again, I’d do all of those things!’). But somewhere over the last ten years, I’ve become someone who wants to take up as many opportunities as possible and try as many different things I can. And I like that about myself, I really do, but I’ve also learned in more recent times that you have to also make time to relax occasionally, or else it will catch up with you. And then, you’ll be forced to slow down, whether you like it or not.

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Saturday afternoon’s view in Wharncliffe Woods

So, after a super busy and fun month of hen parties and baby showers up and down the country, and with a busy week ahead (which I’m actually really looking forward to!), I planned to take the Bank Holiday weekend we’ve just had and spend it doing very little, other than recharging my batteries. The weekend wasn’t completely without its activities, however. My boyfriend and I were dogsitting a friend’s seven-month-old puppy called Poppy from Friday to Sunday (much to the annoyance of my cat, Theo). But this was perfect because we were able to spend a couple of days just taking the adorable Poppy on a few walks in the countryside around our home and soaking up the beautiful greenery around us before heading home for some indulgent weekend food. Bliss.

Of course, ever the party girl, I couldn’t resist a few cheeky tipples with some friends on Bank Holiday Sunday (and it had been planned for a few weeks anyway), but instead of cramming a load of activities into my weekend alongside this and then feeling exhausted afterwards, I was able to enjoy catching up with friends and be fully ‘present’, rather than knackered.

For so long now, I’ve been telling myself that I have to be ‘on the go’ all the time, rushing from one thing to the next, or else I’ll be missing out on life and opportunities, when, really, I have just been running myself into the ground, not fully enjoying the things I have been doing and neglecting myself in the process.

I still love doing lots of different things with life and I always want to make time to spend with my nearest and dearest, but I’m appreciating more so these days the value of slowing down and taking time out for yourself, so that when you are spending time with your friends and family, you’re able to engage with them better and appreciate the time spent together even more.

There’s no point cramming so much into your life that you forget to actually enjoy the things you’re doing. It defeats the whole object. Who would have thought it, that good ol’ saying really is true – sometimes less really IS more ;-) .

All about You Link Party – come and share what YOU’VE been up to!

This week, I am thrilled to be co-hosting the All About You link party with Zaz from the fantastic Mama and More blog.

We want to hear what’s been happening in your world! Your thoughts, your views, your style  – anything at all, as long as it’s all about you!

Link up as many posts as you like to the linky (add your links by clicking the blue button at the bottom of this post) and you can also link Instagram images (Instagram hashtag #allaboutyounow).

** Here is the All About You Linkup badge! Please grab the code and add the badge to your post or sidebar **

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Party rule reminders
 1. Please link posts on Instagram images specific to the theme of this party – this is your space to link up posts all about YOU, whether it’s style, fitness, food, concerts or sky-diving!

2. Please link the URL of your specific AllAboutYou post, and it would be fab if you would feature the badge or mention the linky, because it’s a nice thing to do ; )

3. Please do give some comment love – don’t just link-dump! Karma Karma Karma!

Feel free to tweet or share about the link party so that more people come along and join too (tweet @jenoir_84 and @mama_andmore for re-tweets!).

Now, let’s get on with the link party! Let’s hear about YOU!

 

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Run it Out

So, a couple of months ago I blogged about my new adventures in running. It was all going so well, I was trotting along merrily, experiencing one or two ‘breakthrough runs’, where I could really tell I was improving, and then BAM, I got a little injury. I say ‘little’ because I still have this belief that injuries are for proper runners and I don’t count myself as one of those just yet! I didn’t feel like I’d done enough running to constitute an injury but after Parkrun one Saturday morning, my right leg began cramping up like crazy and after that, I was literally hobbling around, barely able to put any weight on my leg for two weeks, let alone carry on running.

I rationally thought it was just a strain and, well, it turns out it was. But I didn’t realise it would take so long for a strain to heal, or that I’d experience pain in different areas of my leg. So, I invested in a foam roller to stretch my leg out, moaned a lot to my boyfriend that I’d ‘NEVER BE ABLE TO RUN AGAIN!’ (ever the drama queen) and went to the doctors after two weeks of misery to rule out DVT and Compartment Syndrome (thanks, Google).

After a couple of achey, unsuccessful runs, I went on a good four-mile run last night that got me right back into the groove and after a break away from the activity, my word I can tell I’m feeling good today. Since I stopped running regularly, and subsequently stopped doing any physical activity, I could feel myself going into a bit of a low zone and this, coupled with shocking PMT for the last week, has not resulted in a very fun Jenny, I’ll be honest. I was getting sick of myself grumbling about how I wasn’t living the healthy lifestyle that I wanted or that I was tired with low energy all the time, so I set aside last night to get back on the running wagon. To be honest, thanks to said grumbly mood, I didn’t even want to go running but I made myself do it. I hit the road with my pacer boyfriend and we ended up clocking up four miles, all in all. I had to stop a fair few times, where I hadn’t needed to stop previously, but I made a conscious effort to drown out the negative chatter in my mind, telling myself I was s**t at running and that I’d never improve, and I just got on with it. As I persevered, I felt the stress melt away from me and I could feel my mood noticeably improve.

I felt energised when I got home, had a great sleep and – can I be this honest?! – I even felt friskier than I have in a good few weeks ;-) Today, I feel miles better than I have all week. They ain’t lying when they say this exercise stuff is good for you! I must keep it up and run out that funk the next time it sets in, and also make sure I look after myself a little more so I don’t injure myself quite as easily in future.

Mama and More

 

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Just What the Doctor Ordered – A Fab Weekend

I don’t know about you but, as much as I LOVE my weekends, it’s actually quite rare that I have one that I come away from feeling refreshed, revived and ready to take on the world in the coming week ahead. This is usually down to the fact that, because I work full-time, I cram so much into my time off that there’s often not enough time for reflection and rejuvenation. And I go back to work on Monday feeling exhausted. Clearly this is something I need to look at.

That said, this last weekend was fabulous and I have headed into the new week feeling all kinds of upbeat and positive. It was one of those rare weekends that come along every once in a while and make you take stock of life, make you celebrate the positives, eliminate the negatives and appreciate how pretty damn good everything is, and can be.

10835165_10152969055158031_5787862697975417988_oMy weekend was a break from the norm because it was actually a four-day weekend – I had Friday and Monday booked off work – and I headed down from Sheffield to the beautiful Forest of Dean (my first visit there) to celebrate the hen weekend of an old friend from university.

It was just a wonderful, long weekend surrounded by stunning nature, good company, good food and just the right amount of cheeky cocktails ;-) . It was one of those weekends that just flowed brilliantly. It was fabulous catching up and connecting with old friends, and meeting lovely new people too.

So often these days, people are so busy that it’s hard to stop and take stock of things, and really connect with those in your company. Being in a cabin in the woods with no signal all weekend really encouraged me to take a step back from the phone that may as well be surgically attached to me most of the time (although I will admit I did connect to WiFi and log on to WhatsApp and Facebook during some of the down-time – baby steps…!), and just appreciate both being me and being in the company of those around me.

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Beautiful Symonds Yat, where we lunched on Saturday afternoon.

My journey back up North on Monday was broken up by a visit to see a lovely lady very dear to me and a fab lunch at the Weighbridge Inn in Stroud. Seriously, I’m not being paid to say this but their 2in1 pies are to die for, that pastry…. mmmmm!

Although every weekend can’t sadly be four days long and spent in the middle of a gorgeous forest, I’m determined to hold on to those positive feelings and memories from last weekend and take it forward into the weeks ahead.

This post is hooked up to the fabulous All About You link party, hosted by Mama and More.

Mama and More

 

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Snapshots From a Flying Visit to London

This week I made, as the title of the post suggests, a flying visit to London with work. I just travelled down on Tuesday evening to stay over ahead of a marketing conference on Wednesday and then returned home straight after the event.

I’ve been to London with work before, although it’s not a regular occurrence, so maybe it was just the novelty of it all and the space alone to think, but wandering through the train and then tube stations  in Tuesday evening’s dusk, as I made my way to my hotel, I was struck by a series of little ‘snapshots’ that evoked a mixture of feelings within me:

– There was the heartfelt glimpse of a group of friends waiting outside the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras station with a HUGE banner (like, held up on sticks and everything), excitedly chatting, dancing around and eagerly waiting for the return of their loved ones…

– There was the truly passionate embrace (seriously, it was like something out of a Hollywood film) between a smartly dressed ‘professional’ looking couple at the entrance to the Tube station. Maybe he was just greeting her from the Tube after a business trip, or maybe he was bidding her farewell, who knows, but they certainly looked ‘in love!’…

– There was my journey on the Tube, and the novel excitement of travelling on the London Underground (a feeling I often get when I visit London, but it’s one I know would QUICKLY disappear if I had to make the journey often). Whenever I visit Europe on city breaks, I tend to use the underground metro services there (if they have them, of course!) and so travelling on the Tube often reminds me of city breaks and special memories with the people I love…

– Then there was the view from my hotel window, looking over all the neighbouring Victorian buildings, and glimpsing rooftop gardens and fairy lights – the little, creative things people do to create their own inner-city havens…

IMG_20140418_202434~2I was glad to get home on Wednesday evening to my boyfriend, cat and creature comforts. But, removed from my normal weekday routine for just a short time, my flying visit to London was a good opportunity to think, to meet new people and to be reminded that there is a whole world out there beyond your day-to-day routine, a whole world of snapshots and stories. I’ve been too mired in my ‘here and now’ recently, so this was a valuable reminder for me.

This post is hooked up to the ‘All About You’ Tuesday Link and Pin Party :-)

Mama and More

 

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Breaking/Losing Stuff

I’m pretty embarrassed to say that I got upset this morning over a £3 necklace from Dorothy Perkins. Even typing this, I realise I sound like a first-world brat but please do bear with me.

I’m really not much of a jewellery merchant at all. I don’t buy a great deal of the stuff, but I found the said £3 silver-leaf necklace last week and loved it – even more so because it was such a bargain. I took it home and carefully hung it, with shop tags still in tact, on one of the hooks inside my jewellery box.

This morning, waking up and feeling a bit ‘meh’, I thought  as I was getting dressed ‘ooh, I’ll wear my new necklace with this top, that will brighten up a Thursday morning at work’ (I hardly ever think to pair jewellery with outfits, I often neglect to wear jewellery to work at all, so it made a refreshing change to have a thought like this!).

When I took the necklace – shop tags and all – from the jewellery box, I noticed that two of the silver leaves were snapped clean in half, making the necklace unwearable. I had no idea how this had happened as, although it was a very delicate necklace, it was definitely still in tact when I bought it and carefully hung it up a few days ago.

This just brought back into my mind the fact that last night, whilst out food shopping, I randomly happened to notice that my body bar had fallen out of my belly button. My new, shiny body bar that I bought in Manchester a month ago whilst on a day out with friends. I’ve had my belly button pierced for 15 years and after the first couple of years, the novelty of buying new body bars died down and I stopped buying new ones so this recent purchase was a real rarity. The point was, it was a pretty purchase that reminded me of a good day out with friends and somehow, it’s come loose and fallen away from me and I’ll probably not find it again.

So, after encountering this morning’s jewellery breakage and recalling last night’s jewellery loss, I was in a bad mood. I asked my boyfriend if he had touched the jewellery box and broken the necklace:

“No!” he said. “Has the cat got into the box and broken it?”

“No!” I said. (I don’t know this for sure, though).

Ultimately, I don’t know how the necklace got broken and at £3, it really doesn’t matter. I also don’t know how I lost my body bar (although I suspect it may have happened on an after-work run) and although I have attached some sentimental value to it, it really isn’t the end of the world that it’s gone.

The point is that in life, things are inevitably going to get lost and broken – both materially and metaphorically – from time to time. It’s frustrating as hell when we feel like we haven’t actively done anything to contribute to something’s loss or breakage. I felt frustrated and annoyed that I went to put on a brand new piece of jewellery this morning (and I was looking forward to putting it on), only to find that it was broken and I had no idea how it had happened. I felt powerless over the outcome of that situation. It just reminded me of how this kind of thing can happen on a bigger scale in life – things can be taken from us or broken and we can feel powerless over it, but I guess it’s how we choose to deal with it that counts.

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Recipe: Slimming World Chocolate Orange Roulade

IMG_20150330_212659~2Although I no longer attend a Slimming World class or follow the plan to the letter anymore, I’m still a big advocate of the merits of this healthy eating regime and often like to look out for new Slimming World recipes or recipes that I can make Slimming World-friendly. I also have a bank of trusty Slimming World recipes that I keep on going back to and the Chocolate Orange Roulade is one of my old faithfuls.

As much as I love many of the Slimming World savoury recipes, I don’t often think they do sweet treats so well. To be fair, how easy can it be to make a less sinful version of a fat-laden chocolate cake, and how nice would that even taste?!

That said, the Chocolate Orange roulade is light and lovely, and a firm fave of mine. I’m not afraid of a naughty cake but when I’m making a dessert for one of the ‘Come Slim With Me’ nights that friends and I occasionally get together for, or I’m trying to watch the pounds but fancy something sweet, then this is my ‘go to’ recipe.

Even if you’re not following the Slimming World plan, you’re sure to want to sample this! (If you do following Slimming World, it’s three syns per serving – bargain).

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • Frylight
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sweetener
  • 2 level tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted, plus 1/2 level teaspoon to dust
  • 2 satsumas, cut into wedges, to decorate

For the filling

  • 175g pot vanilla yoghurt (fat-free)
  • 250g quark
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon sweetener
  • 3 oranges, peeled and separated into segments

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180-degrees C/fan 160-degrees C/gas 4. Line a swiss roll tin (I just use a baking tin) with baking paper.
  • Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and sweetener together in a large bowl until pale and thick. Carefully fold in the cocoa powder using a large metal spoon.
  • Put the egg whites in a large clean bowl and beat with hand whisk until they form stiff peaks. fold in the egg yolk mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 15-18 minutes, until set and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin.
  • For the filling, whisk together the yoghurt, quark, orange zest, vanilla extract and sweetener until smooth.
  • To assemble, place a sheet of baking paper on a work surface and turn the sponge out onto it. Carefully peel off the paper. Spread the yoghurt mixture over the sponge and scatter over the orange segments.
  • Roll up the sponge lengthways and transfer – carefully! – onto a serving plate. Dust with cocoa powder.

IMG_20150330_213010~2Et voila – Enjoy! x

*FYI – This is not a promoted post – I really am just a Slimming World fan! *

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The Ultimate Inspiration to Keep on Working Toward Your Goals

Earlier this week, I shared details of my new foray into running. It’s still very early days for me and my new hobby but so far, I’m really enjoying it and am setting myself new little challenges week on week as I strive to improve. My goal for 2015 is to run  a 10k race, something I have never done before. As I begin to prepare myself for my challenge, I am massively inspired by a good friend of mine, Helen Scott, who I met nearly 15 years ago at university.

Helen has made huge changes to her health, fitness and lifestyle in just under five years – losing 13.5 stone/189lbs in weight and successfully completing London Marathon in 2014 being just two of her amazing achievements. She now lives in Sydney, Australia (lucky thing!) and I’m delighted that she is sharing her inspirational story here on the blog.

Helen’s story

IMG_4161In around 2011, I knew that something had to change as I wasn’t happy. I knew deep down that, even though I had denied it for years, that thing was my weight.  Diets had been endlessly tried but with very little success. I now know this was purely due to my love of food and not diets.  However, one thing I had never tried was exercise.

I began by doing workout routines. The most I could do in the early days was the warm up!  However, I powered through them week after week.  I replaced the bad takeaways with healthier versions and along with my workout DVDs, the weight started to come off. I began by shutting myself in my bedroom, with people under strict instructions to never enter the room.  But as I became more confident and a pro at the likes of Davina McCall and Ministry of Sound’s workout routines, I made it into the main living area with more space to do my thing!

I recall a day where it was really hot and sunny.  We lived by water so I would often see people running outside and I wished I had the confidence to run like them. I told my Dad this, who is an amazing inspiration to me when it comes to running – still running at 60!  He said he wanted to go running with me and so we planned to run as much as I could and then walk when I needed to walk. He would stick with me, doing it at my pace.  That day I ran probably about 200 metres before I had to walk again. This continued for the whole run and it was hard.  However, that didn’t stop me and I continued that route on a weekly basis and got better each time.

That route was about 3k. I remember the feeling when I ran the whole way without stopping. That’s when you know what an achievement you’ve made.  I extended the route to 5k and later 7k.

However, I knew that the Great Manchester 10k was coming up and decided that I wanted to be part of it.  So I applied.  I started training, which meant that I would go out running more frequently, probably about four times a week.  The day arrived and I was nervous but also excited.  I also managed to raise money for Alzheimers, a charity close to my heart, so I had a good incentive to complete the run.  One hour and three minutes later I had completed by first ever 10k run and I was in a state of shock about my time.  I was so happy.  It is definitely on my list of best days of my life.  And that was it!  I had officially caught the running bug!

I set my sights on a three-year plan.  The 10k was completed, the next year I wanted to do a half marathon and the year after that I wanted to try and do a marathon.

One year later, I conquered the Sheffield Half Marathon at one hour and 58 minutes.  Again, another great day and a challenge to add to my list of achievements.

image1I continued running and was thinking about what marathon I would do and if anything, whether I could even run a marathon.  However, in December 2013, Children with Cancer asked my fiancé, Steve, to run for their charity.  Steve immediately told them about my background and asked if they would give me a place.  I know how hard it is to get a place for the London Marathon so was overwhelmed that they gave me a place too. I, of course, would do it and I would give it my all, however long it would take.

I would say the training was the hardest.  It was throughout winter and the cold frosty mornings and wet late evenings were tough.  I also started to pick up knee injuries so the training became punishing.  However, 13 April 2014 came around and I achieved my final challenge with a time of four hours and 52 minutes.

Running is now part of my life and daily routine.  It relieves my boredom and is part of my ‘me’ time.  It also releases my inner competitor, someone I never knew existed.  I compete only against myself though and my challenges now consist of being faster.

It has, of course, also helped me to lose weight whilst still being able to fit in a pepperoni pizza now and again.  I’ve lost a total of 13 ½ stone and have recently undergone excess skin surgery, which I joke will make me more aerodynamic!

“I want to motivate and show people who think that they’ll be unfit and/or overweight forever that they must never accept that.”

I want to remain fit and I want to run faster and see what else I can achieve.  I would love to do a marathon again and have my hopes set on New York.  I want to motivate and show people who think that they’ll be unfit and/or overweight forever that they must never accept that.  I was almost that person and will never let that happen again.

My advice to a new beginner or people thinking about doing it is just go out, take it easy, run when you can and walk when you need to.  Then repeat.  Whether it’s once a week or four times a week. Just keep going and don’t give up.

Thank you so much, Helen, for sharing your story! This is true inspiration for anyone to strive towards their goals, whatever they may be.

Helen is really keen to help motivate and encourage others who are looking to make a change to their lifestyle and fitness. She has recently created an Instagram page to offer support and daily motivation. Follow her at: https://instagram.com/pursuit_of_perfection_